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Trump And DeSantis Court Iowa Football Fans; 2024 Race; Powerful Earthquake Hits Morocco, Kills 1,300 Plus; New Advisory On Hurricane Lee; G20 Declaration Avoids Condemning Russia's War In Ukraine; Auto Union Rejects Latest Wage Offers From Detroit's Big Three; "Hard Hits, Can Football Be Safe?" Airs Tomorrow At 8PM ET/PT. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 09, 2023 - 17:00   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington. Good evening.

We begin this hour with presidential politics colliding with college football in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election. It means that the Iowa-Iowa State game is the scene of some pretty avid campaigning.

CNN's Kyung Lah is in Ames, Iowa for us, where former president Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are staging a little match up their own out there. Kyung, what are you hearing from Iowans.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Iowans as these two presidential candidates are approaching, sure, there is the sense of excitement because you have football colliding with the presidential politics, as you say.

But make no mistake about it, what this is all about is trying to win this first-in-the-nation caucus state. And you can sense it as these candidates make their way through the crowd.

So what they are doing right now is that they are both seated inside the stadium. They are, indeed watching the football game, trying to take part in the spectacle of all of this.

But the undercurrent of all of this is their rivalry, the presidential politics rivalry. DeSantis is seated in the crowd with Iowa's popular Republican governor. Donald Trump is seated inside a stadium box.

Now ahead of entering this particular stadium, what we saw is more of the sort of, you know, rubbing elbows with the students, trying to pose for the best presidential picture in this caucus state.

They were tailgating, Donald Trump was at a tailgating party at a fraternity where he was signing footballs, he was throwing footballs. He even flipped some burgers. And as he walked around the stadium and walked into the stadium, he was greeted by very loud cheering. DeSantis, same thing. Also trying to tailgate, meet with people. He

had a number of campaign stops ahead of coming here to the stadium, and what you heard DeSantis talk about is not just football and what this day means for Iowans, but he spent a good deal of time talking about how he's ahead of Trump on the number of visits to the state. He's been here eight times since he announced. He talks about how he's been to more than half of the 99 counties here in Iowa. I want you to take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): And I'm actually starting to hear a lot of people say because you're showing up, I'm supporting you, because that's the way you got to do it.

Iowans don't want the campaign to be about the past or to be about the candidates' issues. They want it to be about their future and the future of this country. And that's what I represent.


LAH: And what he wants to do is also show himself standing amid 60,000 Iowans who are inside the stadium. This is, Jim, as you know, a big rivalry game between University of Iowa and Iowa State. University of Iowa, though, right now is winning.

Still don't know about -- you know, you could ask either campaign on who they think is winning between the two candidates. But you know, certainly Donald Trump is ahead in the polls.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. All right. And it is football season, and I mean if Iowans are out there campaigning -- watching the campaign develop, you know that the caucuses are going to be coming up very soon.

Kyung Lah in Iowa for us. Thanks very much.

Let's get some perspective now. Joining us to discuss, CNN political commentator, Republican strategist Alice Stewart; former adviser to Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign, Chuck Rocha; and Vanity Fair special correspondent Molly Jong-Fast. Guys, great to see all of you.

Chuck and Alice in the studio with us which is great.

Alice, let me start with you. Trump as you know has been ramping up this rhetoric following these four indictments but he had this rally last night and had some choice words to say about all of it. Let's listen to what he said in South Dakota and let's talk about how it sounds a little familiar. Let's listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to get out, and you have to fight like hell because these are dirty players, and what we have to do is we have to take back our country. We have to scrape that whole situation out. We fight -- we fight like hell, and if you don't fight like hell,

you're not going to have a country anymore.


ACOSTA: Alice, I mean, are you concerned the former president is using almost the same language he used on January 6th. Even after all these indictments.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. That's exactly what his base wants to hear. That kind of language, it plays right into the red meat.

But the reality is there are a lot of people that are at that football game today in Iowa and across Iowa and these other early states, they don't want to talk about the past. They want to talk about the future. And as Governor DeSantis said, that's what voters are looking to hear.

And as I'm talking with people in the state of Iowa, I'm hearing several things. Donald Trump is clearly way ahead in the polls, in a lot of these states.

But no one's writing this race off now. They are still looking at all of the candidate, talking to all of the candidates. They certainly are recognizing the fact they have a caucus duty in Iowa, and they're listening to everything they have to say.


STEWART: But what Donald Trump said last night in South Dakota and what he is saying to his base certainly helps his base, but many Republican voters are looking to hear something different about the economy, about jobs, about school education and immigration. That's what they want to hear, not Donald Trump's past grievances.

ACOSTA: Chuck, does Donald Trump want another insurrection, or does he want another election?

CHUCK ROCHA, BERNIE SANDERS' 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: He wants to try put his message out there that he just keeps over and over and over talking about -- there's an old saying in the South, if you lie long enough about having a horse, eventually somebody will buy you a saddle.

And that's what he's doing is he just keeps saying I didn't lose the election, your life is miserable, the economy's bad, listen to what I'm saying. And that's why he's in this redundancy because it's just politics of grievance. Hope and aspiration went out the door a long time ago.

To my sister's point he's just feeding that red base because he knows that only a small group of people are going to vote in those primaries, especially in a caucus where only a really minute group of folks likely a say so.

ACOSTA: Molly, can we just write this off as just garden-variety Trump political rhetoric?

MOLLY JONG-FAST, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, VANITY FAIR: I mean, you never can after January 6th. you can never write him off because we've seen what his base is capable of. That said, a lot of these people from January 6th are being sentenced to serious jail time.

Of course there has not been a lot of accountability for the people higher up in that situation.

I would just argue that I'm not convinced that DeSantis has such a different vision than Trump. He's sort of Trump without the charisma. This sort of B side of Trump. So I'm not sure he's actually offering much that Trump isn't offering.

ACOSTA: Yes. And Alice, I mean, one of the things you were just saying a few minutes ago is that there are Republicans out there who want to hear a different message, they want to look to the future.

But it doesn't -- the polling shows us that that's not really the case. And isn't the party running out of time to stop Trump?

STEWART: Well, we don't have a lot of runway left between now and the Iowa caucus. But what I'm also hearing from Republican leaders in Iowa and the evangelical leaders in Iowa which are critical, they're saying that the polling that we're seeing doesn't match what they see on the ground. They see these candidates, all of these top candidates, going to the pizza ranches, going to the coffee shops, going to people's homes and lighting up the rooms and really getting people engaged. We know that several of the candidates are doing what we call the full Grassley, going to every county -- all of the 99 counties, and they're talking to these people and understanding that they have to meet these people face to face because that's exactly what they want.

And they do -- they want someone that not only can win in the primary but can broaden the base, bring in more moderate, disaffected voters, the suburban moms that Donald Trump has lost because we absolutely -- have to have that in order to win the general election.

ACOSTA: And Chuck, I want to get your thoughts on a recent remark from Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. He is saying he would deport American-born children of undocumented immigrants. Let's listen.


VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Family unit will be deported as a family unit. We'll never separate families. But we will de-bureaucratize the process for which law-abiding citizen and their families have a path to legal immigration into the country if they meet the criteria.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The child was born in the United States, they have birth rights in the United States would also be deported --



ACOSTA: Chuck, what do you think of that?

ROCHA: I think it's hate and discontent. And I think the American people are sick of that. He's trying to feed red meat to the base, and that's all he's doing. What he's doing is he's turning his back on lots of folks who risked their lives to come to this country in lots of different ways including my family, lots of my friends' families.

This country was built on immigration. It was built on folks who aspire to do great things in this country. And I think what he's doing is a disgrace to himself and what the whole party stands for when you start going to that Trump-era side of that -- and I think that people are really tired of that.

ACOSTA: Yes. And Molly, staying on the topic of immigration real quick, it's not just Republicans talking tough on this and using incendiary rhetoric.

I mean there have been some critics of the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, who say that he's been using that kind of rhetoric as well, saying that the migrant crisis there would, quote, "destroy New York City".

What did you think of that?

JONG-FAST: I don't know how that guy got to be mayor. That's all I can say. I mean he's a Democrat in title only.

And you know, if he's so -- I mean, he has an opportunity, he knows the mayor. Wait, he is the mayor. And yet all he does is complain about immigrants. He runs our city. He can do a lot of stuff.

First of all, anti-immigration rhetoric from a Democrat is, in my mind, just a travesty. This country was made on immigrants. And every time we malign the very fabric of America -- I mean, what are we saying as a party?

And then also, I mean he's trying to hide his incompetence and it's really disappointing. We could have had Maya Whylie (ph). It's just a travesty.

And you know, he's trying to appeal to Republicans because he thinks that that will help him stay in office. But I think that he's really going to have trouble with that kind of rhetoric.


ACOSTA: Let's talk about Fulton County. Alice, Fulton County grand jury report was released on Friday. I was just curious what you thought of that report. Says the grand jury recommended charges against Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, as well as the other two former Georgia senators who lost their races.

Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis decided not to prosecute Lindsey Graham, but this is how Lindsey Graham is reacting. Let's listen to this.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): What I did was consistent with my job as being United States senator, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. But it was just not me. Three United States senators were opening up Pandora's Box.


ACOSTA: What do you think of that?

STEWART: Here's what I --

ACOSTA: Was he doing his job as a U.S. senator?

STEWART: His explanation of this is he was just inquiring about the election results. Look, what I think this says more than anything, this really pushes back on all of these Republicans' notion that all of these indictments including Fulton County are weaponization of the DOJ, criminalization of politics. They're going after political enemies.

What this says is that a grand jury, a special grand jury wanted to hand down indictments against 39 people, and the D.A. decided actually, these people, we don't have enough support for overwhelming conviction in this case, so I'm not going to bring down indictments against key senators. We're talking about Kelly Loeffler, Perdue, and Lindsey Graham.

She sat back and looked at how will this play out in a court of law and decided not to move forward. So I think, if anything, this shows that the prosecutors in Fulton County are looking at this through the correct legal lens and law enforcement lens as opposed to political weaponization.

ACOSTA: And Chuck, let's talk about the CNN poll that everybody has been talking about all week. It shows two-thirds of the president's base want a different candidate. Democrats want a different candidate. Only a third want him to run again.

People have been quibbling with this poll and where these, you know, where the results really are. Especially you put him up against Donald Trump, obviously Democrats are going to vote differently.

But I know, Chuck, you talk to focus groups. You talk to Democrats. You used to work for Bernie Sanders.

Is there a concern? Does the White House need to be dealing about this more forcefully? Does the Biden team need to be dealing with this a little more forward leaning?

ROCHA: Look, I've been a yellow dog Democrat since I was 18 and could vote, and I'm a Democrat so I get up every day worried. It just makes me worry more, let me be clear.

As Democrats, it's a long time before the election and that's right, but there's also not that long before the election.

And everybody knows who Donald Trump is, and everybody knows who Joe Biden is. And they're probably going to be the nominees. Can we be doing better communicating all the great things that Joe Biden has done? Absolutely we can.

But for all of you Democrats out there, this just means we always have to run like we're ten points behind. And it's going to be a close election. This country is very polarized.

And yes, when I do focus groups do folks say Joe Biden is old? Absolutely they do. But they also say he's got a lot of things done and it shocked a lot of them all the things that he could accomplish in his first two years. You got a Senate vote for those things and keep plowing the field and not be distracted.

STEWART: I think the president would be better served to have Chuck out there trying to make the case for the economy as opposed to this administration because they're not doing it.

Six in ten Americans feel that the economy is worse off under this administration and the president's approval rating now below 40. Chuck, you need to get out on the road and make the case.

ACOSTA: And Molly, final word from you?

JONG-FAST: I do not trust any of these polls, and Alice was just saying she doesn't trust the polls. And I think we shouldn't trust the polls here.

We're 400 plus days out from this election, we've seen every election since 2020. Joe Biden has over performed by a large margin. We were told there was a going to be a red wave midterm, there was nothing.

So I am not going to freak out about polls at this early date.

ACOSTA: Yes. Biden has been in this place before. That is certainly the case. All right. Alice, Chuck and Molly, thank you very much.

In the meantime, we are following breaking news.

More than 1,300 people are dead after the earthquake in Morocco. We're live on the scene with our Sam Kiley and others to see some of the devastation firsthand. Please stay tuned for that.

We'll also tell you how you can help out the victims there.

Plus, a new advisory just out on Hurricane Lee, a big, powerful storm out there near the Caribbean. We'll talk about that and what it could have in terms of an impact on the U.S.

That's also coming up.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


ACOSTA: More than 1,300 people are now confirmed dead in Morocco after a powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck last night. More than 1,200 people are in critical condition.

Here we see a rescue team pull a woman from the rubble after this earthquake. As the search continues the death toll is expected to climb even higher.

CNN's Sam Kiley joins us now from Marrakesh. Sam, how are things going right now? What are you seeing where you're standing?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're in the Medina, the old city of Marrakesh, Jim. And as you can see here we've got an ancient building, probably many hundreds of years old. The entire side of it has fallen away. Indeed, I'm standing on it in this very narrow street down below.

And this is a pattern we've seen not everywhere but all too frequently for this city that has, Jim, absolutely no history that anybody could think of that would mean that this was a city that was ever in danger of suffering an earthquake.

It's not a place like San Francisco or L.A., where people live with the fear, the permanent fear of living on shifting tectonic plates. But just look at that building beside me. Somebody's bedroom torn away, the walls to it exposing their lives.


KILEY: And it's reminiscent in many ways of some of the scenes I've seen in Ukraine, in Kyiv and elsewhere that have been hit by missiles. Also ripping away this side in this enormous natural violence though Jim, that has gripped this country.

And elsewhere, of course, things are much worse particularly in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains some 50 miles away from here, Jim where there are very many significant numbers of villages that have been completely flattened we're told by authorities, Jim.

ACOSTA: And you've been to areas of devastation before, Sam. I mean, what are the people of Morocco going to be doing over the next several hours and days ahead to get through this? I mean it just seems like getting people shelter is going to be one of the first priorities.

KILEY: Well, shelter I think is going to be a massive priority. At the moment, authorities don't really know the full scale of the problem in those more remote areas, Jim.

There are figures of 1,300 dead so far. I think it's certain to rise. We've seen aerial pictures of these villages that have been utterly flattened, whole villages now just looking like this, like rubble, Jim.

And at the same time, though, the King of Morocco, King Mohammed has announced three days of national mourning, but there has been a national mobilization of all of the services, particularly the armed forces, trying to get helicopters into these remote areas because the roads to those locations which in any case were tough going have now largely been closed.

So the scale of the problem is really going to be the principal issue right now.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And I suspect we're going to see help coming in from all over the world to help out the people of Morocco there, desperately going to need it in the coming days.

Sam Kiley, thank you very much.

And you can also help the victims of the Morocco earthquake. You can go to or text MOROCCO to 707070 to donate. Please help out if you can.

Just minutes ago the National Hurricane Center issued its latest advisory on Hurricane Lee. Let's go straight to meteorologist Jennifer Gray in the weather center. Jennifer, what's the latest?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Jim, we are maintaining the strength. We didn't have an increase in wind speed, but we didn't have a decrease either. We're still at 115 miles per hour, gusts of 140. It's moving to the west/northwest at about ten miles per hour.

This storm is expected to maintain that major hurricane strength, Category 3, strengthening a little by the time we get into Monday, possibly becoming a Category 4 and then really slowing down.

We're anticipating that sharp turn to the north by midweek next week. And depending on when that turn happens, will make all the difference when you're talking about impacts, if any, to the U.S. East Coast.

With this traveling well north of the Caribbean, we're looking at basically large swells, high surf, and some rip currents across some of the Caribbean islands. But we're not going to see really many more impacts than that.

We are looking at that turn. But look at all of these forecast models we look to determine what the forecast is going to be, really spread out. So determining when that turn is going to take place is still a little bit too early to tell.

But you can see if we take it -- the turn a little bit sooner, that would mean far fewer impacts to the U.S., worse for Bermuda though but then if it travels a little bit farther and then takes that turn we could see a few more impacts to the U.S., Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. I know you're going to be refreshing your weather data here coming up in the next couple of days. Jennifer Gray, thank you very much for staying on top of it.

The U.S. praises a G20 statement on Ukraine as, quote, "consequential". Ukraine calls it quote, "nothing to be proud of". What the world's powers are saying and not saying about Russia's war.

We'll talk about that in a few moments.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: On Ukraine, we should go to India now where President Biden and other world leaders are gathering for the G20 summit. After much deliberation they agreed on a joint statement earlier in the day which notably stopped short of condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Shortly after Ukraine blasted the agreement, releasing a statement reading in part, "The G20 has nothing to be proud of," in the part referencing Ukraine.

This comes as Ukraine continues to push forward in their southern counteroffensive. President Zelenskyy spoke to CNN's Fareed Zakaria about that this week.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Thankful to partners, to the United States, E.U., other partners. I'm thankful very much.

President Biden and (INAUDIBLE) and to Congress. We have to understand we thought we waited too long, they put lines (ph). Then when we've been ready from the point of view of our partners because the decision to give us, for example, Bradley and all these kind of weapons, the decision it doesn't mean the result.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: You don't get them immediately.

ZELENSKYY: Of course -- of course you don't. Of course you don't. So something still on the way. Until now when we're seating and speaking about it, when counteroffensive and a lot of different people said that it's too slow. But it's still on the way.


ACOSTA: CNN's Melissa Bell is in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, with more.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, disappointment on the part of Kyiv as the final wording of the G20 leader declaration over in New Delhi. It had been very difficult to arrive at, and yet a spokesman for Ukraine's foreign ministry said that the final wording which reflected differences of views and assessment about the war in Ukraine should far more strongly have called for an end to what he described as Russia's war of aggression.

Still on, the American side and in the shape of Jake Sullivan, there were some congratulations about the fact that this wording had been reached at all.


BELL: What he said was that there had been consequential paragraphs in the declaration when it came to Ukraine that suggested a shared understanding of the fact that one nation simply can't invade another.

This comes, of course, even as the counteroffensive, Jim, continues to move further forward.

We've been spending time with artillery positions on the Ukrainian side making difficult but slow progress here in the Zaporizhzhia region under constant fire from drones, but also Russian artillery positions opposite the Ukrainian position.

But that this counteroffensive is making progress, however slowly.

This comes even as voting has begun in some of the Russian-related Ukrainian territories. It's been taking place across the Russian Federation.

But controversially, Jim, also inside those four occupied regions of Ukraine, Ukrainian officials have described it as a sham and urge Ukrainian citizens not to take part -- Jim?

ACOSTA: All right. Melissa Bell, thank you very much.

Let's discuss this with former NATO supreme allied commander and CNN military analyst, General Wesley Clark.

General Clark, let's go through this excerpt of this G-20 statement that Ukraine is not really happy with.

It says this -- we're going to show it to viewers:

"We call on all states to uphold the principles of international law including territorial integrity and sovereignty. We welcome all relevant and constructive initiatives that support a comprehensive, just, and durable peace in Ukraine."

What do you think, General, is Ukraine right to be annoyed about this?

Looking at this statement that we just read, where is the talk of the war crimes? Russia's been credibly accused of war crimes. It just sounds like the G-20 did not go far enough, not being tough enough on Russia.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I agree with that, Jim. And I think Ukraine is right to be concerned.

I know Jake Sullivan and the president are proud of what they got. I'm sure it was a tough fight to even get that into the G-20.

But these nations don't understand the lessons that the West learned from the Second World War and the Cold War. Aggression has to be forcefully stopped. That if you let it get going, you get a wider war.

That was the lesson that came out of Munich in 1938. And it's the lesson that our policymakers have held for 70 years.

But you know, new nations like India and others that are new on the diplomatic scene relative to World War II, they don't have that historical memory. They're not following the lessons.

And by not condemning Russia strongly for a war of aggression, they're inviting more trouble in the future. The United States has probably done all it could do.

But my sympathy's with Ukraine on this. They're right. This is a war of aggression. It's terrible war crimes being committed. Russia should be wholeheartedly condemned, and Vladimir Putin, of course, held personally accountable.

ACOSTA: And Putin is not at this G-20 summit. And neither is Xi Jinping.

But, General Clark, the U.S. has announced it will send controversial depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine for the first time. Can you talk about that?

CLARK: Sure. But these -- these are depleted uranium rounds for tanks. It's just a heavy metal. It's taken the -- radiation is out of it. It's not radioactive in the sense that uranium is.

What it is, is something that's heavier metal than lead. It has more penetrating capacity.

It's been in the United States Army arsenal for 40 years. We carry it in our tanks, our soldiers are exposed to it. This is all part of Russian, and before that, Soviet disinformation about these depleted uranium round.

Sure, like all battlefields, it should be picked up cleaned up after combat. But this is not any real escalation. This is simply an effective anti-tank round.

ACOSTA: And let me ask you about, we had a conversation in the previous hour with the Air Force secretary. And we were talking about this hold on military promotions basically being implemented by the Republican Senator from Alabama, Tommy Tuberville.

The secretary of the Air Force described this as a national security problem. What would you call it?

And what kind of pressure can the Pentagon put or bring to bear in this kind of situation to try to resolve this? Can they -- should the administration be doing more, should the president, should he be speaking out more on this?

How does this ever get resolved?

CLARK: Well, first of all, of course, it's a national security problem.

And not only is it blocking promotions and assignments and policy changes and preparation for potential war against China and military assistance to Ukraine in its ongoing war, but it's brought politics into this.


This is about a political issue. It's very close to Senator Tuberville's heart apparently, which is to prevent women from having control of their own bodies. And so, it's the worst kind of reason for a hold on promotions.

Now what can be done, what normally would be done is every federal program that's going to Alabama would be choked off.

And you'd make a private issue of this. You'd go to the leadership in the Senate, you'll tell Mitch McConnell, if you don't crack down on this, we're going to take away your programs in Kentucky.

This is hardball. He wants to play hardball. He's a football coach. He's going to get a hardball thrown back at him. And that's what this administration needs to do.

I know it's been building for weeks. The administration hoped it would go away, doesn't want to have a fight. But it's time to have a fight on this one, I believe.

This is getting increasingly serious. Tuberville's way out of line.

And you know Alabama's one of these states, it's proud of being patriotic. I don't see how citizens from Alabama can support their Senator who's sabotaging the leadership of the United States armed forces.

ACOSTA: And he comes out of the world of football. I can't imagine if you come out of the world of football, how you would be OK with an interim head coach at Auburn or University of Alabama, interim quarterback, interim athletic director. That would make people in Alabama tear their hair out.

But apparently, it's OK to have interim secretaries and generals and everything else?

CLARK: He's playing to the radical right wing of the party in Alabama. He's just way off base on this.

He was a great football coach. He was elected to the Senate without really any government experience as far as I know. He doesn't have any foreign policy experience. I don't think he served in the military.

He's from Arkansas. I've met him. A good man, but he's way off base on this. And really, the president has to stop this, using the leverage and power of his office.

ACOSTA: All right, General Wesley Clark, thanks as always. Appreciate it.

CLARK: Thank you, Jim. ACOSTA: And tune in tomorrow to "FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS," who is in

Ukraine for an interview with President Zelenskyy on the counteroffensive, his efforts to take on corruption in Ukraine, and the possibility of compromise with Putin. Watch tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

And we'll be right back.



ACOSTA: A strike against Detroit's Big Three automakers is moving closer to reality with the United Auto Workers union rejecting the latest wage and benefits offers from all three of Detroit's unionized automakers.

And 145,000 UAW members could walk off the job one minute to midnight on Thursday.

Let's discuss this with Michigan-based economist, Justin Wolfers.

Justin, great to have you back on the program. Thanks a lot.

You know, earlier this week, I'm sure you saw this, the president expressed confidence that there would not be a strike.

What is your sense? Do you share that optimism? Does the industry share that optimism? Do the union share that optimism?

JUSTIN WOLFERS, ECONOMIST: One reason to be optimistic is I'm pretty sure the president doesn't want this strike to go ahead.

A reason to be pessimistic is labor looks to be a long, long, long way away from where capital is on this. And so there's a lot of distance to move, and not many days.

And so I think it's pretty unlikely we get a deal without a strike. And that could happen by the end of next week.

ACOSTA: Well, let's see how that plays out.

But in the meantime, the union president, Shawn Fain, he has not been holding back on his criticism of the Big Three car carmakers.

Maybe you saw this here. Let's play some of this for our viewers and we'll talk about it on the other side.


SHAWN FAIN, PRESIDENT, UNITED AUTO WORKERS: Believe me when I say I'm fed up. And one thing I want to tell you is this trashcan is overflowing with the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) that the Big Three continue to peddle.

If we want higher wages, better benefits and a better future for ourselves and our families, we're going to have to fight like hell to win it.


ACOSTA: Justin, what is the B.S. he's referring to there?

WOLFERS: Look, you don't hear a bloke like that talking and think, geez, I reckon they're a couple of days away for a deal.

So you know, the union's looking for a big pay raise. The company, the auto companies have really no interest in that.

So the union's looking for a 40 percent pay raise over 40 years. At the moment, it looks like the auto -- the companies are close to offering 15 percent. There's a very, very big gap between the two of them.

There's also some other very contentious issues around things like overtime and predictability of overtime and the length of the workweek, as well.

You know, the past three years the pandemic were really hard, really hard for a lot of people in a lot of ways. And you've got a union here that's got a voice and got some real strength and real power. And it looks like they want to exert their muscle.

ACOSTA: And I have to ask you about the Hollywood writers' strike. Is there any movement on that standoff?

WOLFERS: I'm not seeing any movement right now.

And, Jim, I think the thing that I want to do is tie together the two strikes because I think a lot of moms and dads right now are probably thinking, how does this affect me?


WOLFERS: And one answer is very directly. It's going to be harder to find cars if the autoworkers are on strike. It's already getting harder to find good television.

You're the exception, Jim. And it's going to be hard --


ACOSTA: I was going to say, wait a minute.

WOLFERS: Yes. No, you are the exception.

But you know, beyond that, there are two ways of thinking about this. One, these are each very small parts of the American economy.

And so you know, it was only three years ago we were effectively knocking out all the workers in all the industries, yet we kept on keeping on.

And the autoworkers, the United Auto Workers, are about 1 percent of our total base much the actors and writers, they're a little bit less than that.


So one way of thinking about this is to say it's a small part of the economy, and it's also not highly integrated into other sectors. And so the macroeconomic effects might be quite small.

But I also want to point out these are very concentrated industries. I'm coming to you now from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and we rely on the auto industry.

Even as I don't think this could cause a national recession, it's going to cause a lot of pain particularly in the Midwest.

And likewise, I wouldn't want to run a sandwich shop, coffee shop, clothes shop in Hollywood because I'd expect my sales to be going down any day now.

ACOSTA: Absolutely.

All right. Well, Justin Wolfers, we always appreciate having you on the program. And we'll have you back soon. We'll talk about this again as this continues on.

Justin Wolfers, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.

WOLFERS: Thank you.

ACOSTA: All right.

In the meantime, we are following the breaking news in Morocco. Officials there now saying the number of people dead tops 2,000. And 2,000 people have died as a result of that earthquake.

It keeps climbing. Almost every hour, we're getting updated death toll information. We'll continue to bring that to you as all of this develops.

CNN is live in Morocco at the top of the hour with a look at the devastation. Our Sam Kiley is there. We'll also attempt to talk to some of the people on the ground about the rescue efforts.

Please stay with us as the breaking news continues here on CNN. We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: Are you ready for some football? Tomorrow most of the NFL kicks off the new season.

And tomorrow, on "THE WHOLE STORY" with Anderson Cooper, former NFL linebacker and now CNN sports anchor, Coy Wire, looks at why football is so popular and whether football can be safe.


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: What do you think it is about the game that fans just love this sport?

ANDY REID, HEAD COACH, 2023 SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: It encompasses what we all go through. The challenges in life, challenges on a football field. There's a camaraderie and excitement. You get to see all the races and religions brought together and that's celebrated.


WIRE: And make no mistake about it, football is a way of life for many Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go.

WIRE: From peewee leagues, and flag football, to high school football's Friday Night Lights --


WIRE: -- and colleges and universities all across this country, people are obsessed with football.


ACOSTA: They certainly are.

And Coy Wire joins us now.

Coy, CNN -- I guess you spent nine seasons playing in the NFL before coming to CNN.

Your sense of it, how much the game has changed. You can watch and see that player safety has improved. The helmets are getting smarter. The gear is getting better. It's still not safe enough.

What did you find out as you looked into this?

WIRE: Yes, Jimm, it's like "Aladdin." A whole new world. My daughters would be so proud of me right now.

Training camps sound more like pillow fights. They wear these guardian caps, required, by the players in the trenches. These pillow-like caps in their helmets.

We visited training camps in the documentary. They don't have contact anymore. They're not allowed. There's a concussion protocol. Forcing players with symptoms to sit out.

The emergency action plan which last year saved Damar Hamlin's life. There have been rule changes over the last two decades.

Reporting shows, undoubtedly, that the game is safer than ever and it is likely going to continue to get even safer. ACOSTA: Yet we still saw some bad injuries during the preseason. You

can't eliminate it all together. That's one of the issues.

For parents who are cautious about letting their kids play football, what do you think? What did you find?

WIRE: Yes, Jim, football is not for everyone. This is not chess. This is not basketball. No offense, LeBron James seems like a very tough dude but this is a brutal sport.

I think people would be shocked, as I was while reporting on this documentary, everything happening behind the scenes to make football safer.

From the high-tech lab where engineers and epidemiologists are researching and developing technology and equipment.

Seeing how the hundreds of millions of dollars by the NFL are being put to use. They're he is thing and evolving, shoulder pads, cleats, helmets, which are evolving at nine times the rate they used to.

The one I wore back in the day, you're not even allowed to wear it anymore. It's not safe enough.

It is vital what the NFL is doing. Because that sets the tone for what happens at the collegiate, high school and youth levels. All 50 states now have concussion protocols for high school players.

This is very important stuff. I can't wait for people to see it tomorrow night.

ACOSTA: They had helmets like that back then, Coy?

WIRE: Barely. Yes. Finally, got it on there.

ACOSTA: I have this big head here, too. The helmet would not fit in my case.

But all right, Coy Wire --


ACOSTA: -- we'll be watching. Thanks so much. Great stuff.


ACOSTA: Appreciate it, as always.

Be sure to tune in. An all-new episode of Anderson Cooper, one whole hour, one whole story. It airs tomorrow at 8:00 Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.

As millions of students go off to college, many of them are also struggling with the challenges that come with having a parent in prison. Here in the United States, nearly 1.5 million children have an incarcerated parent. This "CNN Hero" knows firsthand what they're going through and she is dedicated to making college more accessible for students like her.

Meet Yasmine Arrington.


YASMINE ARRINGTON, CNN HERO: What we're ultimately doing is ensuring that young people who have incarcerated parents are overcoming systemic barriers.


And also changing the trajectory of not only their lives but their families' lives and breaking the stereo types and the stigma around having an incarcerated parent.

Are you ready for graduation?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I'm so excited!

ARRINGTON: What keeps me going is that proud-mama effect to see our scholars achieve and gain a healthy sense of confidence. Just a little bit of support can go a very, very long way. It really is a snowball effect.


ACOSTA: And to find out more about Yasmine's work, go to

And we'll be right back.